2017 Best MBAs: Danny Plooster, University of Minnesota (Carlson)

Danny Plooster

University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management

Full Time Dual MHA/MBA Candidate, Class of 2017

“Passionate, optimistic healthcare leader who solves complex problems and is committed to social good.”

Age: 28

Hometown: Baraboo, WI (Home of the Al Ringling Circus!)

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve been around music my whole life, starting with the piano at three years old, and play jazz improvisation on the tenor saxophone

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Wisconsin – Madison: Finance, Investment, Banking; Management Human Resources (Management Option)

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Epic Systems, Project Manager

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? The Chartis Group, Chicago, IL

Where will you be working after graduation? The Chartis Group, Senior Consultant

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Carl N. Platou Leadership Competition Award – 1st Place – Recognizes the leadership skills and innovative thinking of an elite group of students who are complementing their MBA education with a Medical Industry Specialization
  • Managing Partner for the Graduate Volunteer Consultants (who provide over 2000 hours of pro-bono consulting for local non-profits)
  • President and Founder of the School of Public Health Consulting Club
  • President of the Medical Industry Leadership Institute Student Association
  • Vice President of MITH (Management, Internal, Tech, and Healthcare) for the Carlson Consulting Club
  • Vice President of the MHA cohort
  • Team Lead in the Carlson Consulting Enterprise
  • Team Lead on a Graduate Volunteer Consulting project aimed at the city of St. Paul’s first universally accessible park
  • Graduate Teaching Assistant for Healthcare Specialization courses in the MBA program as well as Finance and Accounting in the MHA program
  • Organized and completed a volunteer consulting engagement with Ilula Lutheran Hospital in Tanzania through Global Health Administration Partners in which myself and another dual MHA/MBA student provided a medical records redesign that laid the foundation for an open source EMR
  • Medtronic Interdisciplinary Healthcare Case Competition
  • Worked part time for Allina Health on a Healthy Communities Partnership

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I’m most proud of my role in starting the School of Public Health Consulting Club and the downstream impact that could have on future students and our community. When I came to graduate school I was somewhat unsure what I wanted to do, but was definitely interested in consulting. Therefore, I connected with my career coach and he said, “Why don’t you start a consulting club so you and others can learn about the industry?” From that point forward, the club took off and had over 30 students at our capstone event which directly addressed our mission to provide students a channel to learn about consulting and prepare them for careers in that space. Moreover, in our second year, we expanded it to include two consulting engagements. One in which students worked with a local health system on an integrative health market strategy. The other sent myself and another student to Tanzania to work with a regional hospital on various administrative activities, including the medical records redesign groundwork for an open source EMR. This project remains a defining moment in my life and I’m proud to know that other students will have similar opportunities through the club.    

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Without a doubt, I am most honored to be the first Carlson MBA to intern at The Chartis Group. From the first day I met a Chartis consultant, it was my goal to be a part of the amazing work they do. I remember thinking that I might have to wait until full time to have a chance, but due to hard work, determination, and a lot of casing I was able to join Chartis for the summer. While there I was able to work with a top 10 Academic Medical Center on a post-merger integration strategy for its cancer service line which will lay the foundation for other specialties. I cannot imagine a better home for me and feel so honored and humbled to work side by side with their people.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Carlson because of its strength in healthcare. I couldn’t find a better dual degree than the Masters of Healthcare Administration and Masters of Business Administration at the University of Minnesota. In addition, the breadth and depth of the network of provider, insurer, and medical device alumni provided me the perfect workshop to develop my understanding of the complicated healthcare marketplace. The unique value proposition of unmatched hospital operations expertise from the MHA program plus the combination of the Medical Industry Leadership Institute (MILI) and real world projects through the Carlson Consulting Enterprise led me to a career in healthcare consulting.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? The workshop environment for me to grow and develop with unbelievable support through classmates, faculty, and corporate partners. I cannot imagine a better environment to go out and try new things. It was a place for me to try leading a club, to go to a different country, to consult for leading healthcare companies, and to develop lasting relationships with a diverse group of people. The relationships I have built with faculty and friends throughout these three years of graduate school have allowed me to be my best and most passionate self.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? I would say the lasting relationships were the biggest surprise. I had heard that business school is just a big social club but until you are there it’s tough to understand. Learning side by side with my friends every day was a blast. I can confidently say that some of my best, life-long friends came from business school and that is very surprising.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Be curious and be engaged. Before business school, I didn’t really have much leadership experience. So I took this opportunity to throw myself at everything that seemed interesting. This is your one opportunity to lead from day one in the classroom, in clubs, and socially. Make it known through your personal statement and interviews that you value this opportunity and will take advantage of it. Then hold true to your word by practicing leading every day. I think admissions at Carlson, and other schools too, are looking for applicants who can genuinely articulate the value of this opportunity and show willingness to engage in its transformative power.

What is the biggest myth about your school? I would say it’s a myth that Carlson is just a marketing school. Yes, we have relationships with some of the best marketing opportunities around and our faculty in that space are world-renowned. However, we also have the Ventures, Funds, Consulting, and MILI enterprises that all provide strong growth opportunities. I know of several successful start-ups that were founded at Carlson and the medical industry programming is phenomenal.

What was your biggest regret in business school? My biggest regret was that I didn’t go to Chile and Argentina for the Carlson Global Institute trip, “Marketing in the Mayhem: Why Chile Thrives and Argentina Tries”. I wanted to save the money but now that all my friends came back with stories and unique learning experiences, I am extremely jealous.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Simon Cecil! I am currently engaged with Simon on a 15 week consulting project. Simon is the most genuine, inspiring person I have met in school. His humor is unique and refreshing while his ambitions are even more so. Simon’s unapologetic divergence from your “typical MBA” is so great in that he is using this platform to learn strong business acumen and apply it to social good. He currently has two side ventures. One that uses locally sourced ingredients to create chocolate and the other provides funding to post bail for inmates who need a break. Just the other day, Simon was tired because he spent his entire evening waiting into the waning hours of the night to ensure a successful bail posting for someone he has never met. Post-graduation he will be working as a program evaluator for Volunteers for America. I’ve just never met a more decent human being.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I confirmed I wanted to do healthcare strategy consulting. As an MHA student, I had deep exposure to hospital operations and some exposure to strategy. After networking with consultants and feeling out the value of Carlson, I knew that adding the MBA to my graduate experience would help me break into the career I would most enjoy.”  

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…at a fellowship in a hospital. I would probably have wanted to go to a large Academic Medical Center or an Integrated Delivery System like Kaiser Permanente. I think, though, I would still be trying to stay close to internal strategy if possible.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? I think I would focus on developing my students’ abilities to live great lives. At the end of the day, we are all here to get a job, but business school is so much more about laying the foundation for the rest of your life. As much as possible, I would fight to divert the immense job focus toward squeezing the most out of these two years. Nobody will forget why they are getting an MBA but they also won’t remember a lecture or exam. They will remember the outdoors club they started or the event they attended at the local theatre while on a trek to Seattle. I would absolutely promote the rich extracurricular experiences that you can only find in graduate school.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I want to have a meaningful impact on the shift to value in healthcare. I want to make providers and patients come together to make living a healthy life simple. I know that today our system is broken in many ways but there are a lot of incredible, passionate people working to fix it. I want to be a part of that solution. Whether that means I stay with Chartis and provide deep relationships with providers throughout the country or I off-road to a large integrated system that has the impact to drive change, I hope to work every day to help keep the populations I serve healthy.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My Mom for her unwavering support. We have been through so much over the years and whether it be the best day ever or the unimaginable worst, I will always call her.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would like my peers to remember me as a socially-driven, authentic leader with contagious enthusiasm.

Favorite book: The Big Short by Michael Lewis

Favorite movie or television show: Game of Thrones!

Favorite musical performer: John Coltrane

Favorite vacation spot: The Amalfi Coast, Italy! I took my Dad to Sorrento, Positano, and Capri when I studied abroad in Milan in undergrad which showed me some of the most beautiful places in the world. Also, Curaçao is a close second.

Hobbies? Old man hockey league, golf, reading, music and travel

What made Danny such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

“Danny is the most conscientious, engaged, and self-motivated student I’ve ever seen and yet he maintains his humility and a focus on self-development. He makes his classmates and teammates better at every turn—and they love it. It gives me great hope for the future of our healthcare system in the U.S. to know that Danny is on the case!”

Severin St. Martin

Senior Lecturer, Director of the Carlson Consulting Enterprise


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.